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October 2003     Vol. 4, no. 10

Family wealth across the generations

Raj K. Chawla and Henry Pold

  • In 1999, families whose major income recipient was born in the 1940s had the highest mean wealth ($291,600); those with one born in the 1960s had the lowest ($110,900). This is consistent with the well-known pattern of wealth being low for younger families and peaking in the pre-retirement years.
  • Between 1984 and 1999, total wealth declined for families with a major income recipient born before 1930.
  • During the same period, the proportion of families with $500,000 or more in net worth doubled, but their share of wealth increased only 40%.
  • Even though some generations of families saw their wealth increase more than others, overall wealth inequality was static. Home equity helped to reduce wealth inequality.


The authors are with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. Raj Chawla can be reached at (613) 951-6901, Henry Pold at (613) 951-4608, or both at

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